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Creative edge of cities: a comparative analysis of the top 500 creative industries businesses in Beijing and Shanghai

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This article studies creative industries in the two economically most important cities in China: Beijing and Shanghai. Both cities have been at the forefront of Chinese economic modernization endeavour in the past three decades, and now lead the way in developing city-based creative economy strategies and policies. To date, research on creative industries in China has centred on the issues related to conceptual and definitional debate, with very limited attention being paid to firm-level evidence. Through applying the United Kingdom's Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) definition of creative industries (DCMS 1998 and 2001), this study responds to this challenge by identifying the 500 largest creative industries businesses in both cities, and subsequent comparative analysis focuses on the composition, size, ownership and level of marketization of the top 500 in both cities. The article argues that the development of creative and cultural industries in China is both constrained and enabled by the existing institutional frameworks at central and local level. The strength and weakness of the particular subsector are heavily influenced by a city's own historical, socio-economic and political institutions. The concept institutional thickness (Amin and Thrift 1995) thus provides a useful perspective to understand why cities differ from each other in terms of subsectoral competitiveness and structure. The relative strength of particular sectors, as this article conceptualizes the creative edge of cities can best be explained as a result of the lock-in effect derived from the process of thickening a particular set of place-bound cultural and creative institutions. China is an evident example of the state acting as the key architect of building those institutions.

Keywords: creative edge; creative industries; economic transition; institutional thickness

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/cij.1.3.227_1

Affiliations: Aston University.

Publication date: August 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • The scope of the Creative Industries Journal is global, primarily aimed at those studying and practicing activities which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent, and which have a potential for wealth creation. These activities primarily take place in advertising, architecture, the art and antiques market, crafts, design, fashion, film, interactive leisure software, music, the performing arts, publishing, television and radio.We are pleased to announce that the Creative Industries Journal has been included in the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) list 2010.
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